Stop discrimination and help my son have a trained aide in a regular education class.
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Tristian is a 6-year-old boy who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (mild) and ADHD (moderate) at the age of three. Since the 2016-2017 school year in Weslaco Independent School District (Weslaco,TX), we have run into several problems. While Tristian was enrolled in North Bridge Elementary, the self-contained special education teacher placed my son and other students in the bathroom for "cool down time" where there were cleaning chemicals accessible to students. Needless to say, I brought this up health and safety hazard to the WISD Special Education Director. At this point, I moved my son from that campus into another local elementary, Clecker-Heald.
My son is high functioning with a normal IQ and is more than capable of learning. However, I had to fight to get him out of the self-contained special education class because WISD automatically places all students previously enrolled in the PPCD, special education pre-k, to the self-contained unit. This essentially is a "cookie cutter” prescription for all students, regardless of their abilities or needs. For this reason, I sought out a special education advocate who aided me in fighting for the accommodations and opportunities that Tristian needs.
However, less than two weeks after being enrolled in his mainstream class (November 2016), his regular education teacher suggested to have Tristan placed in a resource class instead. I declined her suggestion, saying it was too soon to make a decision about placement. Additionally, Tristian had never been in a regular class, was coming in late into the class, and needed time to adjust. Then, after less than a month of having my son in her class, she stated that perhaps he needed to repeat kindergarten. In the last two months (including holiday break), she has suggested to have Tristan repeat kinder for a total of three times, and that placing him in the self-contained unit is probably best.
Although Tristian’s IEP and BIP plan have not been completely followed, his teacher stated that she wants to help, but since she went to school for regular education and not special ed, she doesn't know how to help him. I offered multiple solutions: I could attend school to help him, provide pamphlets with information about Autism and ADHD, more inclusion and resource, an aide trained in Autism or ADHD, and additional professional development. She shot down all of my suggestions except the possibility of having a trained aide. However, WISD employees state that having an aide for my son is difficult to provide because of budgetary issues. Additionally, WISD touts itself as an anti-bully zone, but Tristian's cousin, who is enrolled in the same class, has shared that she has to defend Tristian from other students that repeatedly tell him to stop his hand flapping, which is a common stim of Autistic individuals.
Currently my son receives inclusion time for one-hour, along with speech and OT therapy. I took it upon myself to get private tutoring for my son because the teacher has not assessed him so we don’t know how far behind he is, he has therapy at home, and most recently due to the teacher’s comments, I have a social worker coming in to school for the next few months to help my son. I have tried everything, even received clearance from the district to be with my son or volunteer at the campus, and I currently go to school three times a day. From my experiences with WISD schools and what I have been dealing with after trying to help them and being turned down with offered solutions, I can’t help but feel like they are trying to pigeon-hold my son once again by placing him in the self-contained unit so they won’t have to provide the services he needs. By placing a high functioning Autistic child with ADHD in a self-contained classroom, he could begin to mimic social cues from students with more severe diagnoses, severely negatively effecting his behavior more. Most importantly his academics will not be prioritized since in self-contained classroom, as they focus more on life skills. Tristian has the right to be in the least restrictive environment.
I am asking for help to have WISD employees stop discrimination, cookie cutting all special ed students, and to get my son the help he needs. Tristian is a 6-year-old who currently cannot read or write, but is fully capable of doing so if only he was receiving the appropriate support and accommodations. In this case, Tristian is desperately in need of an aide due to the lack of training and experience WISD staff have in meeting the needs of high functioning special needs students.
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